Saturday, February 02, 2019

January 2019: Best Disc Supplements

Every month I highlight some of the best Blu-ray and DVD supplements (along with Criterion Channel features upon its return in April 2019). Too often these pieces are overlooked or given the most cursory mention in reviews (or on sites like DVDBeaver where they take a back seat to "A/V" assessment and are usually copy-and-pasted from the Special Features text from the relevant label's website). Pieces cited don't necessarily hail from new releases; rather come from whatever I've been watching that particular month. They represent the very best in supplementary material — critical, historical, personal — above and beyond the status quo.


• Laine and Abel: An Interview with the Driller Killer / 2016 18-minute conversation with Abel Ferrara conducted by an off-screen Brad Stevens, shot for the Arrow edition of Ferrara's The Driller Killer, presented in a 4K Arrow restoration from the original camera negative. Abel speaks from a screening room about early films as warm-up- and preamble-movies, the problems with making pornos in the '70s in the US, and how you don't need an Olivier to play the fucking Driller Killer.

• Audio Commentary with Abel Ferrara and Brad Stevens on The Driller Killer / 2016 feature-length audio commentary between Abel and Brad for the Arrow edition of the film — entirely different from the commentary recorded back in the day for the Cult Epics DVD release. Freewheeling and full of anecdotes around late 1970s New York, and the economics of life and independent film at the time in the place. "She killed the cinematographer."

• "The Pre-Release Version" by Brad Stevens / 2016 essay in the booklet for Arrow's The Driller Killer detailing all the shots and their respective lengths cut from Abel's "pre-release version" of the feature (which also appears on the release in a 4K restoration, with Ferrara's blessing) for the "theatrical version," which AF prefers on the basis that it's at once tighter and, in small parts, more ambiguous.

• "The Ship with Eight Sails and with Fifty Black Cannon" by Zoë Tamerlis Lund / 1993 essay in the booklet for Drafthouse's Ms .45, originally published in the January 2001 issue of New York Waste. An incredible text that deserves to go down as one of the definitive feminist manifestos. She was a light-year beyond the knee-jerk/reactionary contingent of "Me Too!"...

• Abel Ferrara and Ms .45 / 2013 8-minute interview with Abel that appears on the Drafthouse release of Ms .45.

• Audio Commentary with Abel Ferrara on King of New York / 2004 feature-length audio commentary on the Lionsgate Blu-ray of the film — one of the all-time classic commentaries.

• Audio Commentary with Abel Ferrara and Ken Kelsch on Bad Lieutenant / 2009 feature-length audio commentary for the Lionsgate Blu-ray of the film. Ditto the above.

• Abel Edits The Addiction / 1994 or '95 footage of Abel in the editing room, included on the Arrow disc of The Addiction (which also includes the fabulous 2018 documentary by Ferrara made for inclusion on this release, Talking with the Vampires).

• Audio Commentary with Abel Ferrara on The Addiction / 2018 feature-length audio commentary on the Arrow Blu-ray of the film.

• Audio Commentary with Whit Stillman and Main Crew / 2012 feature-length audio commentary on the Sony Pictures Classics Blu-ray of Stillman's Damsels in Distress, which also includes a good 28-minute panel on the film with Stillman and cast moderated by Peter Hammond.

• "An Introduction to Jean Rouch" by Paul Stoller / 2017 essay revised from a 2004 essay published in Rouge, appearing in the 2017 booklet to Icarus Film's Eight Films by Jean Rouch. Contains a brief report of Rouch's attendance at the Rouch 2000 event at NYU — but also recounts the afterward, wherein he heads up to Harlem. A scene is described of the word spreading among the present West African community at an open-air market that the filmmaker is in attendance, and folks line-up to express their respect... My favorite film is Jaguar, Mine is Petit à Petit...! Beautiful...

• "On the Set of Andrei Rublev" / 1965 silent color footage totaling 5 minutes, on the Criterion Blu-ray of the 2004 Mosfilm HD restoration of the feature. Tarkovsky directs, Yusov shoots, and we get to see the beautiful plums and beiges and reds of the Tatar and peasant wardrobes.

• Robert Bird on Andrei Rublev / 2018 interview with the critic and writer on the material reality of the film-world: a key aspect of Tarkovsky's movie which goes back to the not-the-frame-but-the-aquarium concept centrifuged by... who is it I'm thinking of? I reached out to Andy Rector to see if he could recall any specific source, but it turns out there was a proliferation of thought on 'the Aquarian'. I might have been thinking of Alain Bergala by way of Bill Krohn, but Andy in an email response lifts the lid to reveal species Bazin, Daney, Malraux, Straub, Agnel, Mourlet, Renaudin. Here's hoping Andy posts this mini-anthology on Kino Slang in the near future.


Best Films Included Alongside a Title Feature:

Luchino Visconti: Man of Three Worlds
by Francis Coleman, 1966
included in the 2010 Criterion edition of Senso
(shot for the BBC Sunday Night program during Visconti's production on the omnibus film Le streghe)

Mulberry St.
by Abel Ferrara, 2010
included in the 2018 Arrow edition of The Driller Killer

Talking with the Vampires
by Abel Ferrara, 2018
included in the 2018 Arrow edition of The Addiction

Jean Rouch, cinéaste aventurier [Jean Rouch: Adventurer Filmmaker]
by Laurent Védrine, 2017
included in the Icarus edition of Jean Rouch: Eight Films

Katok i skripka [The Steamroller and the Violin]
by Andrei Tarkovsky, 1960
included in the 2018 Criterion edition of Andrei Rublev


Cover and Package Design:

• Frank Borzage's Moonrise
Criterion - Illustration by Greg Ruth, Design by Eric Skillman, 2018

• Abel Ferrara's The Driller Killer
Arrow - Illustration by The Twin Evils, 2016

• Abel Ferrara's Ms .45
Alamo Drafthouse - designer unknown?

• Abel Ferrara's The Addiction
Arrow - Artwork by Peter Strain

• Luchino Visconti's Senso
Criterion - Cover Illustration by Glen Orbik, Design by F. Ron Miller, 2010

• Andrei Tarkovsky's Ivan's Childhood
Criterion - Design by Neil Kellerhouse, 2013 (Blu-ray reissue of 2007 DVD release)

• Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev
Criterion - Design by Nessim Higson